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In this astonishing memoir, the author brings us along on a pilgrimage of sorts. She and fellow Mennonites are on a tour, tracing the perilous journey their forebears made to what they thought would be the promised land in Uzbekistan. Her parents met in Somalia, father a native, mother a missionary English teacher. So she has double consciousness, as it were, as well as a wealth of historical, literary, and religious knowledge. This is exploration on many levels, beautifully written. It never gets abstract; her voice and perspective are always present in the narrative. A feast.
Jenny has a lot to be sorry about, mostly bad luck and bad judgement. Billie is Jenny’s daughter. Because of her mother’s precarious existence—single, poor, presently unemployed—she’s often both worried and resentful. Prince Charming appears (hah!); yet again, it’s a bad choice. Billie is clever, determined, and manages to head off what might lead to yet another calamity with fierce ingenuity. Small town Midwest setting, charming.
The title, from a poem by Chinese American Margaret, has become a rallying cry for a movement against PACT, a xenophobic America-first institution that grips the nation. It refers to the children who are forcibly removed from households where their parents are deemed a bad influence. Margaret wrote that poem when she was pregnant with her son Bird, pre-PACT, but she must disappear when he’s 10 so he can remain with his librarian father who just wants to keep under the radar. At 13 Bird sets out to find her, following clues from notes and drawings that refer to stories she told him. Chilling, fascinating, and a bit too close for comfort considering today’s political climate.
Izzy, Black, has a cold boss at the NYC publishing house where she gets lots of criticism and very little support. However, a reclusive author in Santa Barbara is not cooperating and she’s sent there as a last-ditch effort to get him to fulfill his contract. Of course, at the beginning it seems hopeless. Beau (yes, this is a Romance) is shut down and surly but Izzy has her ways. This is a bonbon book with smarts, delightful and relaxing to read.